Beginner's painting questions

I know this is more basic than most of the questions here, so if someone can recommend a good website that goes into more detail, that'd be great. (Unhandy middle aged female alert, LOL).
1. 50 yo row house, plaster walls. Last painted about 18 yr ago, before I moved in. I'm planning to sell sometime in the next yr and want to start getting ready. I'm going to have a pro paint my 1st floor after I've moved, because all of the walls run into each other and into the stairs and I don't wanna deal with that (did I mention I'm also 5 ft tall). However I thought maybe I could at least paint the three small bedrooms and save a little money. Most of the paint looks to be in good shape, but there are several areas of paint that have lifted and cracked and are peeling off, leaving an uneven surface. The last person who painted obviously just painted over that type of area, leaving noticeable depressions. How to make the surface even? Someone told me vinyl spackle or whatever it's called? I take it that I smear it on, but then is it sanded or what? Or is it not worth the hassle of me trying to do this part myself? (Someone told me that if I had it painted after I move, they'd use a sprayer and it would be fast).
2. I have metal casement windows with metal frames. If I decided to tackle painting those myself, would I need to do anything special because of the metal vs wood? Different paint?
Thanks! And back to lurking.
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Well, you ask difficult questions, in a sense. I'd start with one of the "Big Box" stores like Lowes or Home Depot, and see if they have any literature. You also might get some help from a friend who has done a lot of painting before. Cook them dinner. Always works.
A 3 step stool/ladder does wonders for the hight issue. I am 5'11", but with the 8 1/2 foot ceilings in my current house, I need a bit of help. A 6' step ladder is also good. You should have one around anyways.
Prep is everything. Scrape/sand any loose paint, spackle, etc. The surface MUST be clean and smooth. Check out surface prep material like TSP - tri sodium phosphate to remove any traces of grime, grease, etc. You can't paint over grease. This is an especial problem in kitchen areas from cooking fumes.
Consider "eggshell" finish, versus flat paint for areas like bathrooms, or kitchens. Easier to keep clean. However, it doesn't cover as well, so you might need more coats.
If you are doing the same color, then 2 coats usually does the trick. If changing color, look into primers like Kilz or Zar. You can also get the primers tinted to the final coat color, which helps a lot. I did pink over green one time in a bedroom, and it was a non-trivial task.
Metal -- same deal, prep, etc. You often get better adhesion with a oil based paint. Also check out "liquid sandpaper," which is a solvent surface prep material that is good for surfaces that have been painted with an oil base paint.
Don't skimp on paint or brush quality. Blue "Painter's tape" and drop cloths are your friends.
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If you have lived with lumpy walls and metal windowframes for 18 years without any compelling need to learn how to refinish them, it seems false economy to propose first to learn how and then to complete the work, just in order to sell the property (i.e. never again do this sort of work.) Spend (half) the time on locating a truly skilled tradesman. His charge in dollars per hour will be less than yours in sweat and frustration.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Lee wrote:

I would not paint the aluminum windows..just use some fine steel wool to clean them up before you paint.
Uneven places where thick paint has peeled usually need to be levelled out with spackle .. just plain spackle, nothing fancy. You can try sanding the edges of the chipped paint, but that generally causes more chipping and doesn't smoothe out well. After you spackle, wrat a damp cloth around a flat chunk of 2x4 and wipe across the spackle to smoothe it. Let it all dry very well. Prime the newly spackled areas, feathering out beyond the edges. You spred the spackle with a wide blade scraper, wider than the spot you are patching so that it bridges the entire defect .. otherwise one edge gouges out what you are trying to fill.
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By the time you buy all the stuff you need to prepare the walls and paint them, you will have spent a good deal of money. Unless you plan on buying a different house and doing some painting there ... you will have left over painting supplies that you can't use....and it costs a good bit of money to buy all this. Bottom line - you truly may be better off to just hire someone.
On plaster and stucco - especially old plaster and stucco - it sucks up paint like you wouldn't believe. Don't be surprised if three coats are necessary. Before you do anything, take a trip to the paint store or Home Depot and write down the costs of all these things you are going to need to buy that you may never use again ... if you are serious the library used to have books explaining the basics of DIY repairs like painting.
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I'm relieved that several people have said this. I was feeling like I "should" do some of it myself to save money, although part of me was also thinking that it might be faster just to let someone who knows what they are doing breeze through once the house is empty. What I may do is go ahead and get an estimate on having the company do the whole thing vs doing part of the house. I probably will be doing some painting when I buy a new house, since everyone else seems to have watched the same "sell your house" shows and painted their walls white, too.... except of course for the ones who apparently watched an episode where someone painted their walls two tones of beige, and/or painted the dining room red!
Many thanks!
Dottie wrote:

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wrote:

A good paint job is all about preparation. Use a putty knife to remove any loose or peeling paint. Use 100- or 120-grit sandpaper to smooth any rough areas. A trouble light held against the wall will greatly help inspection of the work. If you can get another person to do the inspection, all the better. Spackle areas that need it and smooth spackled areas the following day using sandpaper (hold a dustpan against the wall directly under the sanding will keep the mess down). Flat paint shows fewer defects than gloss, although a gloss paint is preferred in baths/kitchens. Don't forget to paint all the closets.
I recommend Rustoleum paint for the casement windows. Always follow the directions recommended.
White is blah, but the best "selling" color. It makes rooms look bigger and brighter.
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